Stop Falling into the Multitasking Trap

Most people think that multitasking means that they’ll save time and get all the tasks that they need completed done in a quick and efficient manner. But researchers are finding that that's not true.

Multitasking is very popular today. Everyone is checking emails on his or her phone while trying to write up that report due soon, working through lunch breaks, or any other tasks he or she can get done at the same time. Most people think that this means that they’ll save time and get all the tasks that they need completed done in a quick and efficient manner. The problem with this theory is that researchers are finding that multitasking is not as effective as handling one thing at a time, and could actually be dropping your IQ. Single focus can be a forgotten skill, but one that you should give a chance.

How Effective is Single Focus

Take a moment and think about what happens when you move your focus from one task to another. Often, you have to remember where you were with the task when you started focusing on something else. This means you have to find your place on the email you were reading, remember what you were going to write in that report, or even what you were going to say to the person you’re talking to on the phone. Plus, you have to get yourself interested in working on the task at hand when other tasks might be more interesting to you at that moment. Overcoming the inertia of having to go back to a task while multitasking can take quite a bit of effort.

Multitasking is just one way that people distract themselves — even though the end result that people aim for is finishing things quickly and correctly the first time around. Also, think about how often you find that while multitasking, you later determine that you made a mistake in what you were working on with everything else. Then, you’ve got to go back and work on the task all over again which costs more time. This could go away if you start focusing more on one task at a time. Think of it as putting one foot in front of the other, again and again, until you’ve reached your destination rather than running from side to side to get to your destination.

Experiment with It

The effectiveness of focusing on one task at a time is going to depend on the person, but you can always try a small experiment to see how much extra time in a day you could generate. Complete your tasks as you have been with multitasking, and be sure to time how long it takes to do them. Then, time yourself when you work on each task singly giving it 100% of your attention from start to finish. The results may surprise you in how quickly you’re able to finish your to-do list by checking them off one at a time rather than trying to tackle several at once.

You may not want to only rely on your first timing when it comes to working on one task at a time to get an accurate comparison. At first, you may find that it can be hard to keep your focus on that one task, and your concentration may waver, but over time, you’ll get used to keeping your attention focused. As you go along, your time to finish tasks will begin to speed up because you’re not dividing your attention.

Multitasking is such an ingrained part of society today, and it may be hard for you to put it aside to give the old-fashioned way of doing things a try. Putting your single focus on one task will help you start to get it done faster than you would’ve finished it while working on other tasks at the same time. You may be able to fit more in a day just by not trying to do everything at once, and that’s some significant time savings. What would you like to do with the time that you save?